Masood Azhar, chief of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad has not been arrested nor has he been put under house arrest while three of his junior functionaries were detained in cases not connected with the Pathankot terror attack, officials have said.
Quoting intelligence inputs, government officials said no case has been registered against Azhar in connection with the Pathankot terror attack and there has been no visible action against the leader of the terror group responsible for many attacks in India.
Three junior-level functionaries of the JeM were detained by Pakistan’s security agencies but only Maulana for possessing some incriminating documents, which have nothing to do with the January 2 attack on the Pathankot air base in which seven security personnel were killed, besides the six perpetrators.
Officials said initial reports of Azhar being detained for the Pathankot incident were completely false and suspected to be a propaganda by some Pakistani agencies. Pakistan is yet to inform India if it has registered any criminal case against the JeM or any of its activists for the Pathankot attack.
The officials said since Pakistan has announced that several individuals belonging to JeM have been apprehended, it should also disclose under which law it has detained them and started the probe.
India has given to Pakistan information about certain mobile numbers which were used by the handlers of the six terrorists who stormed the sensitive air base in Punjab. There is no information on the identity of the owners of those numbers, they said.
Tapped conversations between the terrorists and their Pakistani handlers were also shared, government officials said, adding the government there should take the probe ahead by registering a criminal case and taking custody of those who received the calls.
India has given specific leads under which specific detentions should be done, they said. Pakistan has a legitimate right to seek more evidence but first they have to act on the evidence already shared with them, the officials said.
As far as Pakistani SIT’s visit here is concerned, the officials said any evidence can be collected only under some law but there is no information regarding the law under which it would like to collect proof by visiting Pathankot airbase.
A Pakistan PMO statement issued on January 13 had said “considerable progress has been made in the investigations being carried out against terrorist elements reportedly linked to the Pathankot incident.
“Based on initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad have been apprehended. The offices of the organisation are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are underway,” the statement said.
In the spirit of the cooperative approach, the statement said, it was also decided that in order to carry the process forward, additional information would be required for which the government of Pakistan is considering sending a SIT to Pathankot in consultation with government of India.
Kandahar hijacking, Parliament attack: 10 things to know about Masood Azhar
1) Azhar came to India on a Portuguese passport in January 1994.
2) Known to be a master indoctrinator, Azhar was soon in Kashmir to speak to ‘mujahids’. He was arrested in February 1994.
3) After his arrest, the Pakistan high commission in Delhi wrote to the Indian foreign ministry identifying Azhar as a Pakistani journalist and sought his release.
4) He was later freed by Indian authorities along with two other terrorists in exchange for passengers of Indian Airlines flight IC814, hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in 1999.
5) Soon after his release, the Maulana addressed a gathering in Karachi, saying: “I have come here because it is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India. Kashmir has to be liberated from Indian rule.”
6) After his release, Azhar founded the Jaish-e-Mohammad in 2000.
7) The Jaish made its presence felt in Srinagar through a suicide bombing at the Jammu and Kashmir assembly in Srinagar in October 2001 in which 39 were killed.
8) In December 2001, the Jaish attacked the Indian Parliament.
9) Following the January 2002 kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl by Sheikh Ahmed Saeed Omar, a close aide of Azhar, the US had sought the custody of the Jaish chief, saying authorities wanted to file charges against him for his involvement in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight, which had an American citizen on board.
10) However, Pakistani authorities had turned down the US demand, saying Azhar was not a hijacker and his incarceration in India had been “illegal”.